Perfect your posture, work your abs and balance out instabilities with regular pilates.
“Pilates is a body conditioning system of precisely executed exercises that set the body in correct alignment so that muscles can be targeted and exercised effectively,” says pilates and yoga teacher Caroline Sandry.
“Pilates improves posture, tones and strengthens the body. It’s also well known for its benefits as a rehabilitation tool and helping to protect against injury, aches and pains. It brings the body back into balance by easing tight muscles and strengthening weak ones.”
This workout is designed to work as many muscles and joints as possible in just 10 minutes. Once you’ve completed exercise 4, return to the start and keep going until time is up.
1. Roll-Down to Press-Up
Benefits: mobilises your spine, stretches the entire back of your body, and strengthens your shoulders, arms and core.
- Stand with your feet and knees hip-width apart.
- Inhale to prepare.
- Exhale to roll down one vertebra at a time until your hands are by your toes or shins according to your flexibility.
- Inhale to walk your hands out to plank position in three hand ‘steps’.
- Keep your weight in the centre of your feet as you roll down and your abs drawn in.
- For the press-up, make sure you keep your abs drawn in, your shoulders away from your ears and your spine in neutral. Exhale as you push up and imagine you’re blowing yourself off the floor.
- Keep your knees ‘soft’ and bend them a little more if you have any tightness in your back.
- In full press-up position, inhale and lower your chest between your hands.
- Exhale navel to spine, press up and repeat three times.
- Now reverse the steps to roll back up one vertebra at a time to standing using your abdominal muscles to rebuild your spine.
- Repeat the entire process 3 times.
2. Side Bend
Benefits: strengthens and tightens your core, particularly the oblique muscles of your waist. It also strengthens the muscles of your shoulders, inner thighs and hips.
- Sit on your right hip with your right knee bent and your top leg opened, foot flat on the floor slightly in front of your sitting bones.
- Your bottom leg rests on the floor with that foot just behind your top foot. Your body is supported on your right arm – hand in line with your hip and a little away from your body. Your top hand rests on your top knee.
- Inhale to prepare and lengthen your supporting arm, drawing your torso away from the floor and your shoulder away from your ear.
- Exhale to lift your pelvis upwards squeezing your inner thighs together and reaching your top arm overhead.
- Inhale to bend your knees and return your hip back to the floor and your hand back to your knee.
- Repeat 5 to 8 times on each side.
- To increase the intensity you could hold a light dumbbell in your top hand.
Benefits: this is perhaps the best known pilates exercise, which strengthens your entire core and flattens your abs.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet and knees hip-width apart.
- Exhale to contract your abs and bring both knees up to a table-top position.
- Low exhale to lift your head, shoulders and arms off the floor.
- Begin to beat your arms as if pressing up and down on heavy springs.
- Inhale for five arm beats and exhale for five arm beats building up to 100 beats.
- Beginners should start with 50 beats building up to 100.
- Keep navel to spine throughout and your shoulders away from your ears, shoulder blades drawn down.
4. Double Leg Lift
Benefits: strengthens your core, particularly the obliques (waist), and tones your legs and inner thighs.
- Lie on your side with your head on an outstretched arm, with your legs together and your toes just in front of your hips.
- Your top hand is on the floor in front of your chest and your underneath hand has its palm facing upwards.
- Inhale to prepare.
- Exhale, engage navel to spine and squeeze your legs together as you lift them both from the floor.
- Inhale and gently lower your legs back to the floor.
- Continue in time with your breath 8 times.
- Now hold your legs in the ‘up’ position and lift and lower the top leg 8 times.
- If you want more resistance use a flex band.
- Squeeze your inner thighs together tightly for a greater effect.
- Keep your hips stacked one on top of the other and your stomach drawn in.
Caroline Sandry is a qualified personal trainer, Pilates and yoga teacher with over 12 years’ experience. Find out more at carolinesandry.com